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Russ Alman
Social Media Strategist/Website Designer
Wenatchee, Washington
Greatly helpful
out of 10
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Looking to The Clouds for a Decent Mac Accounting Solution

Mac users are often treated as second-class citizens when it comes to accounting programs. While there are a number of good Mac-based solutions out there, including MYOB and MoneyWorks, new, platform-independent solutions await the clouds!
Written Sep 08, 2009, read 4983 times since then.


(This actually started as a post to an ongoing thread on Mac accounting options, but the more I wrote, the more I realized my comments were better suited to an article.)

I have been Mac based since 1984 and have operated my own Mac consulting business since 1994.  I started out with Quicken and did my invoicing through the contact manager I used at the time (anyone remember CAT IV?).

When I switched to Marketcircle Daylite for my CRM about 10 years ago, I decided to put my invoicing in my accounting workflow.  I figured Quickbooks would be the logical choice, since I had used Quicken for so long.  However, Intuit's on again, off again attitude towards the Mac platform tilted me to MYOB, and I've been using it since.

For a non-accountant, I find MYOB a little quirky, but for the most part it makes sense.  I've never had to do payroll, so I can't comment on that, other than that my clients who did payroll usually called me to make sure they put the annual update in correctly.  :)

I do find it frustrating when it comes to accountants and bookkeepers, however, because almost every one I've met only works with QuickBooks.  Since I keep good records and do my own books, I typically can just print the reports my tax preparer needs and that is sufficient.  The flaw is that I'm stuck doing my books... unless I find a bookkeeper willing to learn MYOB just for me.

I am becoming increasingly motivated to move to "cloud computing" and software as a service.  In this vein, Intuit now has Quickbooks Online.  For $10 a month, you can have your data stored and backed up on their secure servers, and you don't have to worry about updates (or even which computer you are on) because everything is taken care of on the server end as part of the service.

This solution is platform independent, and as long as you have a reliable internet connection, likely as easy to use from the end user perspective as the offline version.  

As an added bonus, you can access your data from a Blackberry or iPhone, which means you can enter invoices and time slips in the field.

I have not personally tried this approach yet, but I'm going to take a serious look at it before the end of the year.  I've expanded my business into social media management and web development, and as CEO and CTO, (and as a tired, overworked, unwilling-to-do-it-anymore bookkeeper) I have made an executive decision to make my applications either open-source, platform independent, or both. 

I'm now using SugarCRM Community Edition on the same, hosted internet server where I house my website.  I can access it from my Mac and my iPhone, while the rest of my organization accesses it from PC's. 

My hope is that I'll be able to make a similar move in 2010 with Quickbooks Online.  Then my [future and willing] bookkeeper and accountant will able to access my data from their PCs in real time.

If I do make the switch, I'll write a followup article with my experiences.

You can try QuickBooks Online for free at and see if it will work for you.  I would love to hear your feedback.

Learn more about the author, Russ Alman.

Comment on this article

  • Tax Accountant 
Seattle, Washington 
Mariette Knoblauch
    Posted by Mariette Knoblauch, Seattle, Washington | Sep 08, 2009

    Great article! I'm so glad you shared this information with us. More and more people seem to be looking for platform-independent software that they can use wherever they are.

    I do have a client has told me he is very happy using a cloud software solution of FreshBooks and Outright Accounting. I took a look at the Outright Accounting, and it seems easy enough for any bookkeeper or accountant to handle. He's a service-only business with no inventory and no payroll, so YMMV.

    This website seems to be a good resource for Software-as-a-Service cloud type business solutions.

    Mariette (wish I'd known about you earlier - I have no problem working with MYOB on a Mac, and can certainly understand why you'd prefer it to QuickBooks for Mac)

  • Relief Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Annie Jacobsen
    Posted by Annie Jacobsen, Seattle, Washington | Sep 14, 2009

    Thank you! I am still just getting by with QB over a year after I first started this conversation. I love my bookkeeper, yet she is no Mac-familiar nor inclined to learn MYOB so I've felt stuck. Then I, once again, enter the cycle of: enter data...aargh...try and run report...cuss word-try "help" options...cuss some more...

    It is strangely refreshing to realize it is not just me - this is a Mac <--> accounting issue many face.

    Looking to the clouds ~ thank you!

  • CPA, Accountant 
Irvine, California 
Shaun Lawrence
    Posted by Shaun Lawrence, Irvine, California | Oct 29, 2009

    Informative article for MAC users. A compatible program needs to be developed for such users that has the same functionality of QuickBooks. QB is the predomant accounting software for CPAs. Sad but true, as I have not used much else and have been a CPA for many years. Client generally use QuickBooks and would not want to learn a new program.

  • CPA, Tax, Accounting, Business Consulting 
Beverly Hills, California 
Crystal Cassidy
    Posted by Crystal Cassidy, Beverly Hills, California | Feb 08, 2010

    Thanks for the article. I have run into the issue since recent new clients are Mac-based. One found another cloud computing solution for accounting called 'Clarity.' He said he preferred it to Outright. I haven't yet compared the two, but will be doing so.

    I don't like the rent vs own option. Does MYOB do a good job for you guys? Is it relatively inexpensive to buy?

    Thanks for the article.

  • Social Media Strategist/Website Designer 
Wenatchee, Washington 
Russ Alman
    Posted by Russ Alman, Wenatchee, Washington | Mar 07, 2010

    I've found 4 online/hosted solutions that could be appropriate for small business owners. All of these are less expensive than Quickbooks online. I plan to write an article about them and just haven't gotten around to it yet. When I do I'll post a link to the article here as well:

    All of these except for Nola Pro are really designed more for freelancers. Nola Pro, although not as graphically appealing, is much more robust and could fully replace MYOB or Quickbooks.

  • Licensed Real Estate Broker 
Renton, Washington 
Anthony Giannette
    Posted by Anthony Giannette, Renton, Washington | Mar 07, 2010

    Great Article!

    I am an MYOB bookkeeper in Puget Sound. I love the platform and especially the changes coming into 2010 for this handy tool.

    AccountEdge (MYOB) is a secret weapon in the right hands. It has the highest quality contact manager of any accounting package. Sorry SugarCRM, MYOB has been doing this a lot longer than you have, but still not cross-platform nor in the cloud.

    For anyone looking to be in the clouds, check out, a simple income/expense tracking software for anyone.

    I've only found one cross-platform accounting package: Moneyworks. If you have the cash for this one, a bit steep comparatively to MYOB/AccountEdge but slamming fast.

  • Social Media Strategist/Website Designer 
Wenatchee, Washington 
Russ Alman
    Posted by Russ Alman, Wenatchee, Washington | Mar 07, 2010

    I've seen Moneyworks as well and it looked intriguing. It also can interface with Daylite, which is a Mac-based CRM.

  • Social Media Strategist/Website Designer 
Wenatchee, Washington 
Russ Alman
    Posted by Russ Alman, Wenatchee, Washington | Mar 07, 2010

    MYOB Server is cross-platform, although if you were going to use it remotely you'd have to host it internally and set up a VPN.

    MYOB is a bit quirky, but I do like it for the most part. I particularly like being able to process credit cards with no additional software. MYOB has a built-in hook for ACH Direct. Unfortunately ACH is a non-standard gateway, so it would take some work to hook it into online shopping carts.

  • Email Marketing and Google Apps Specialist 
Kapolei, Hawaii 
Virgil  Vergara
    Posted by Virgil Vergara, Kapolei, Hawaii | Oct 29, 2010

    Hello all. One of my duties as a consultant is to install Google apps into business domains without touching the website.

    Once google apps is embedded into the domain the users of that business are able to log into a mail server that allows various connectivity to the cloud.

    One accounting software that implements with Google apps is called Xero. They say its the world easiest accounting software a links with your bank account.

    I have so far connected Xero to two of my clients and they love it.

    The website is


  • Social Media Strategist/Website Designer 
Wenatchee, Washington 
Russ Alman
    Posted by Russ Alman, Wenatchee, Washington | Oct 29, 2010

    Cool. Thanks for the tip. I'm becoming a fan of Google Apps, both for the robust IMAP email and document sharing. I'll have to give Xero a look.

  • Social Media Strategist/Website Designer 
Wenatchee, Washington 
Russ Alman
    Posted by Russ Alman, Wenatchee, Washington | Dec 23, 2010

    I just came across an awesome cloud-based solution called Outright (

    It's perfect for small business accounting if you don't need invoices integrated with your bookkeeping. That being said, you can still track accounts receivables with it.

    Another cool aspect it you can create a free profile in their business directory.

    It took me about an hour to set up my business. All of my accounts download automatically from the respective banks and credit card companies. All I have to do is update a few categories as items come in. It's a snap!

    BTW, I found this by looking around in the Google App store. EVERY small business should be using Google Apps, at least to host their domain's email.

  • IT Consultant 
Middle Village, New York 
Roman  Demkiv
    Posted by Roman Demkiv, Middle Village, New York | Dec 24, 2010

    I am a fan of Google Aps too (and Google in general). It is very convenient to have applications available on-line. This means less overload for computer, no need to worry about information loss if the system crashes, the application is available from different locations. There are several another advantages. A lot of applications are just free!

  • Email Marketing and Google Apps Specialist 
Kapolei, Hawaii 
Virgil  Vergara
    Posted by Virgil Vergara, Kapolei, Hawaii | Dec 24, 2010

    Hello Everyone.

    I just want to add my two cents into google apps, cloud computing and accounting software.

    Before you sign up for any of those services such as what Russ has mentioned, and for those who have google apps, check first in the google marketplace before you do the install.

    I have 4 good reasons for this:

    1. Connect with your cloud computing app right from within google apps. I think its very convenient to access your cloud computing app while you check your email or calendar.

    2. Some of these cloud computing apps are integrated into google apps and vice versa.

    3. You can test out other cloud computing apps in the same category.

    4. You can also read up on the reviews for each of those apps.

    5. Last but not least, I just think the experience of using google apps with other cloud computing apps gives the users the true potential and power of what cloud computing is really all about.

    Russ mentioned about the accounting software called outright. I was pleasantly surprised to see it in the google apps marketplace. Luckily I didn't install it right away and wanted to see if there were other accounting software that integrates with google apps. When I looked I was please to see it there and will be installing it right after this posting.